Turn on the television or flip through your social media accounts and you will probably encounter a world that is fixated on divisiveness, fear, competitiveness, jealousy, and so many other things that can cause us to feel anxious, depressed, and overwhelmed.
Because we have a habit of looking eternally for things that cause us grief and/or dissatisfaction with life, we fail to see that the real battle is the way we think about what is happening around us. And when we continue to blame outside forces for the things that we don’t like, we give ourselves no room to see how we contribute to all the dysfunction we see taking place around the world.
By taking a moment to think about what we think about – we’re allowing ourselves to assign new meaning to life’s struggles. When unfortunate things happen in our lives, we tend to want to find fault or blame – maybe it’s the way we grew up, maybe we weren’t afforded the same opportunities as others, or maybe we were never around people who encouraged us to be more. Whatever the circumstances are, it’s now our responsibility to do something about it.
This can be a hard lesson for many of us because taking 100% responsibility, also means that we are no longer blaming someone or something else, it takes away all the excuses for us to do something about it.
The other day I was in a training, and I asked the group a question: On a scale of 1- 10 (10 being the most amazing culture you can imagine), what score would you assign your current culture? I heard responses like two, five, and even had a flat zero.
But when I asked them if they felt responsible for creating a positive culture, only half of the participants in the room raised their hand. So there lies the problem. Many of us don’t feel responsible for creating a positive life. We believe that it’s someone else’s responsibility to make us feel happy, successful, and excited about life.
It is easier for many of us to complain about our lives than to do something to change it
If you going to live a more positive life, we all must first assess our thinking behavior and what we choose to believe about ourselves, others, and the world.
Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life!
We are all born into families that spend a lifetime coaching and training us over their views and interpretations of the world, I call this our Family Belief Camp. Our caregivers teach us many of the beliefs that they were taught, sharing with us how to label people and things as good or bad, ideas as right or wrong, and helping to shape our views and beliefs in the same way that someone helped to shape theirs.
While our caregivers have our best interest at heart, many times these beliefs can be based on fears, judgments, and their limited views of themselves and the world. It’s a twisted world and can be complicated to unwrap until you discover that the answer to life’s most challenging problems is not outside of us, but inside.
Everything that we create begins first in the mind. Researchers say that we have 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day and at least 85% of those thoughts are negative. We say things like never, can’t, and shouldn’t. This goes on for several years of our lives and many of us will continue to think this way for the rest of our lives. Which will impact the way we think, feel, and behave.
To change what’s going on in your mind, begin by examining your thoughts and how they make you feel. Low-level thoughts like “I am a loser,” “No one likes me,” or “I am worthless,” will often bring about negative emotions like feeling jealous of others, being confrontational, having difficulty trusting, or feeling inadequate in relationships. So, if we choose to believe that “No one likes me,” the mind will find evidence to support this belief, even if the evidence is not true. Say for instance your friend stopped calling you. This would support the belief that no one likes you; but does this one incident make this belief true? No, it does not. What about the coworker who invited you out to lunch or your sister who called you just to check in? There is just as much evidence out there to dispel this belief as there is to support it, it all depends on what you choose to focus on.
I’ve struggled with negative thinking my entire life and have learned ways to challenge these thoughts by using various tools. One of the best tools I learned from a counselor friend several years ago. She advised me to Put My Thoughts on the Witness Stand. If you are bogged down with negative emotions, it is probably because of the way you are thinking. Try this:
1. Put the thought on the witness stand: Write down the negative thought.
2. Prosecutor presents the evidence for this thought being true: List the evidence that makes the thought true.
3. Defense presents the evidence for this thought not being true: List the evidence that makes the false.
4. Call Expert Witnesses to the Stand: What would your close friends and family say about this thought?
5. What other motives could be there? If you look at the situation positively, how is it different?
6. Verdict: Will this matter in a year or even five years from now?
Once we believe that we are the creators of our life and therefore we are the ones that assign meaning to the things happening around us, we will know that we are beautiful, worthy, strong, and overcomers!
With something to “think” about,
Make it a beautiful week. The choice is yours.
Author, Motivational Speaker, Founder